After an Aug. 10 Town of Huntington public forum held at Heckscher Park, Long Island Power Authority agreed to extend the deadline for the town to accept the latest settlement proposal on the Northport Power Station tax certiorari litigation to Sept. 3.
“After receiving assurances from LIPA that the Aug. 11 deadline to accept the latest settlement proposal on the Northport power plant tax certiorari litigation would be extended to Sept. 3, the Town Board rescheduled both the second public forum on the LIPA proposal and the special Town Board meeting where they will vote on the offer for Thursday, Sept. 3,” a statement from the town read.
The second public forum on the proposal was originally scheduled for Sept. 16, and the Town Board meeting to vote was Sept. 29. Back in July, town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said he had hoped scheduling the two public forums and vote, despite being after the original deadline, would show LIPA “that they know all parties involved are serious and we are vetting this agreement out.” In turn, the goal was for LIPA to extend the settlement proposal deadline. While LIPA officials said in a statement they believe their offer is fair, they agreed it made sense to work with the town.
“LIPA’s settlement is a fair compromise, and it is the only option that will continue low taxes for the Northport community, protect Huntington residents from over $800 million of potential tax refunds, and begin the transition to a sustainable tax base and clean energy future for all Long Island residents,” a statement from LIPA read. “We believe the Huntington Town Board made a good faith effort with their decision to provide a second public forum, along with a vote on the Northport Power Station settlement agreement on Sept. 3. Because of this, LIPA has agreed to extend the terms of our settlement offer through the board’s Sept. 3 meeting.”
The proposed deal, which was approved by the Northport-East Northport school board last month, would reduce LIPA’s annual tax bill on the Northport power plant from $86 million to $46 million by 2027. The tax impact on residents would be lessened compared to the implications of a court verdict in LIPA’s favor, though several local state officials and candidates have decried what they see as LIPA’s attempts to reduce their own tax burden at the expense of homeowners.
Lupinacci said in an email statement Aug. 20 that a ruling against the town would not only devastate the school district but the whole town.
“Our residents and businesses cannot afford that type of financial loss, especially with how we have been hit by the COVID-19 crisis,” he said. “We requested litigation be paused during the pandemic and LIPA rejected that request; now time is running out for us to make a decision. I came into office in 2018 and promised to fight for a better deal than was on the table; we achieved that and then some, including terms no other municipality has ever received from LIPA in a tax certiorari litigation, thanks to the vigorous advocacy of our legal team on behalf of our residents. This deal protects us against tax challenges during the entire seven-year term of the deal, which could be extended to protect us for 12 years, and LIPA has agreed to pay $14.5 million directly to the Northport-East Northport School District, which is an unprecedented offer of funding that could be used to help preserve educational programs while the district plans for its future and offset potential tax increases to residents.”
The Sept. 3 public forum will begin at 6 p.m. and will occur entirely online using a Zoom video conferencing platform. Public comments can be submitted ahead of the forum at huntingtonny.gov/lipa-forum. The Aug. 11 forum video can be viewed on the town’s website, huntingtonny.gov.